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Students switch campuses for classes

Anneliese Woolford | Wednesday, November 12, 2003

As both Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame’s campuses prepare for spring 2004 course registration, students are encouraged to pursue options that may not be available at their respective college. What is not offered in one curriculum may instead be offered just across the street through the co-exchange program.

Although the program has existed between the two schools since the 1960s, even before Notre Dame became a co-ed institution, many students are unaware of the opportunities it presents.

“The only way that [students] really know about it is if they read the schedule of classes book and see that they’re able to take classes there,” said Laura Spaulding, associate registrar at Notre Dame. “If they can’t find the kind of courses they want here, they tend to go to Saint Mary’s.”

According to Saint Mary’s Registrar Lorraine Kitchner, the first indication that Saint Mary’s students receive of the co-exchange program is during the recruiting stage. In meeting with prospective students, admissions counselors at the College let them know what is available in terms of courses existing at both schools.

Once students begin taking courses at Saint Mary’s, awareness of the program is presented using other methods.

“Through advising … students are prompted to take a course by an advisor or a department chair, depending on their interests,” Kitchner said. “If there’s something of interest that we don’t offer, advisors will encourage them to look at Notre Dame.”

While there remain exceptions in certain situations, registering for courses through the co-exchange program is relatively consistent at each school.

At Saint Mary’s, students fill an “Intent to Register for a Notre Dame Course” form at the Registrar’s office. The registrar then obtains a PIN and ID number for the student, in addition to a date and time enabling them to register on Notre Dame’s IrishLink program.

Notre Dame utilizes a similar approach. Students wishing to register for a course at Saint Mary’s must fill a “Saint Mary’s Intent” form, located in the Notre Dame Registrar’s office. However, instead of registering online as Saint Mary’s students do, the form is simply forwarded to the Saint Mary’s Registrar’s office where it is manually entered into the system.

The guideline established by both schools allows students to elect one course in the other’s curriculum per semester, aside from seniors who are allowed two.

“We have exceptions on some occasions though,” Kitchner said.

Difficulty arises for students when prerequisites are needed to enroll in a given course. They must then receive permission from the professor or department the course is offered in and have an exemption form approved.

Although issues like this remain possible, both registrar’s offices are attempting to make the co-exchange program run as smoothly as possible. “[Notre Dame] is going to be using the same software system at some point, and I think it’ll be easier to exchange information,” Kitchner said.

Both Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame give registration priority to their students and schedules around class years.

“Saint Mary’s students are dispersed throughout the whole registration process, yet they would not be keeping a Notre Dame student from getting another time,” Spaulding said. “We send Notre Dame students through the scheduler first and then Saint Mary’s students.”

The same applies across the street as Notre Dame students follow Saint Mary’s in the registration process for each class year.

Unlike Notre Dame, where there is no set limit on how many Saint Mary’s students are in classes, Saint Mary’s varies its limit according to department.

“We have the ability to control how many Notre Dame students get in each class, but others are just open,” Kitchner said. “Each department has the discretion to limit the number of students that they want from Notre Dame.”

Some of the most popular courses offered at Saint Mary’s include those in theatre, dance, religious studies and education. “I’ve really enjoyed taking classes at Saint Mary’s,” said senior Amy McFarlane. “Though it’s an inconvenience to travel back and forth, I don’t regret it for a second.”

McFarlane is a double major in education and psychology at Notre Dame, yet must take the majority of her education courses at Saint Mary’s since more are offered in the program there.

“I know that the education program at Saint Mary’s is great, and unless Notre Dame can offer a comparable program, I would choose to go to Saint Mary’s,” she said. “If for some reason Saint Mary’s didn’t allow it, then I think that it is a program Notre Dame would have to create, because it is an important field of study.”

Overall, most students on the two campuses don’t mind sharing courses. With credit hours and grade points calculated equally into their transcripts, they choose to see the positive in the co-exchange program rather than look for the negative.

“Taking advantage of courses offered by both colleges only expands our education, and the chance to experience certain courses should be available for everyone interested,” said junior David Purcell. “Perhaps a preference could be granted for students of the college, but I don’t feel that Saint Mary’s presence takes away from anything. If anything, it only adds to the quality of the classes.”